What is alcohol?


Alcohol is a 'depressant'. This means it 'depresses' or slows the central nervous system. Alcohol affects people differently depending on their gender, body size, tolerance to alcohol, and metabolism. It can have short and long term effects.


Short term effects of alcohol can include:

  • dizziness

  • nausea and vomiting

  • headaches

  • impulsivity

  • loss of coordination

  • memory loss

  • alcohol poisoning


Long term effects of heavy drinking

  • High blood pressure, heart attacks


What is alcoholism or problem drinking?


There is no safe level of drinking. Any amount has the potential to do damage


People drink for different reasons. Some drink to lessen anxiety, depression, or boredom. Others drink to have fun. Whatever the reason, drinking becomes problematic when it disrupts a person's life. 




What causes anxiety?


  • Genetics - Some people are more prone to anxiety than others. This is partly due to their genetics. Anxiety can run in families.

  • Biology - anxiety can result from certain medications (e.g corticosteroids), medical conditions (e.g. hypothyroidism), and drugs (e.g. cocaine).

  • Environment - Parenting can affect anxiety. If a child is over-protected they may never learn to cope with adversity. Past trauma (e.g. physical, sexual or emotional abuse) can also play a role.

  • Catastrophizing - 'Worst case scenario' thinking causes anxiety.


How is anxiety treated?


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been found to be effective in treating anxiety. CBT teaches people the skills to manage anxiety. Treatment usually includes:


  • Relaxation skills - These skills help to take the edge off the anxiety. Progressive Muscle Relaxation and abdominal breathing are the two most commonly taught techniques.

  • Lifestyle changes - Exercise and getting enough sleep is important. Avoiding alcohol, drugs, and stimulants (e.g. caffeine) can also help with anxiety.

  • Thought challenging - Catastrophic thinking drives anxiety. Thought challenging helps with this. People are taught to ask "is this thought true?", "how likely is that?", "If the worst did happen, how could I cope?"

  • Attention training - Anxiety gives us tunnel vision. Training your attention can help this. With practice, you can break the habit of dwelling endlessly on problems. You'll also be more able to focus on what is important, interesting, and enjoyable in your life.

  • Problem-solving - CBT places emphasis on finding solutions. Using a structured approach can be helpful.

  • Exposure - Exposure therapy targets avoidant behaviours. People who do it are encouraged to face their fears to test whether they come true. Exposure also gives people a chance to see what they're capable of. This is a very liberating (and difficult) treatment. It helps people take control back from anxiety so they can lead the lives they want.


This video explains how anxiety operates and how it's treated using CBT:



About me

I am a Clinical Psychologist in North Sydney who treats anxiety using CBT. Please get in contact to learn more.


* Last updated: February 2018.

* The document is for information purposes only. Please refer to the disclaimer.